Hello once again dear reader,
It has been a while since we wrote a blog here and for good reason.
We have criss crossed the face of our beautiful city sampling various Indian restaurants and over the years have chosen our selected winner per year, yet over the last eighteen months , there has been nothing that has piqued my palate enough to put enough interest in me to write anything substantial.
Now Bristol is filled with gems, The botanic gardens in Stoke Bishop, The Clifton arcade, Blaise castle, truly there is something for everyone but when it comes to eating, and when it comes to an amazing Indian culinary experience, then I believe we have found the best hidden gem in Bristol.
In December 2014 Luthfur Rahman opened the Mintroom in Clifton, having already enjoyed success in Bath under the same name four years ago.
We encountered a different thought process in Indian cuisine with Namaskar Lounge which sadly didn’t maintain enough momentum to stay open but here, the bar has not just been raised but hiked up.
They offer a full a la carte, a lounge menu and soon to come a lunch menu, as well as a well stocked bar and cocktail offering, all of which we willingly took advantage of, the only downside was a lack of draught beer but then cold bottles were available.
On entering we immediately felt that being in Clifton and with the obvious class of finishes this wasn’t going to be a standard experience, from the elegant waiting staff to the classy surroundings, the dark stained timbers and brass inlay framed boats, this is a well thought out, well cared for, and serious business, a million miles away from the city centre Indian restaurants
The welcome was ingratiating, friendly, inviting, made to feel like you are a guest not just a customer.
And so to the food, and before anything and to put substance behind the judgement of the food here, the Head chef hails from the Tamarind in Mayfair London, one Saravanan Nambirajan, classically trained and obviously in love with his trade. The philosophy is simple, healthy and tasty food , using locally sourced ingredients and the choice on the menu is a blend of old and new, a sprinkling of recognised dishes and an enticing choice of new names, certainly to us anyway.
The poppadoms come in small pieces in dishes accompanied by pickles, simple, incredibly tasty and very moreish, and much more attractive than a plate of standard offerings, all served on dark timber platters, a running theme throughout along with slates for other dishes.
The starters were ordered, service was friendly, efficient, and quick and when they arrived well, they all looked like the winning dish from Masterchef
- Pudina lamb tikka
neck pieces so perfectly cooked and marinated in mint, coriander and hung yoghurt accompanied by a light rogan josh sauce and I don’t think I have ever tasted better, in fact, I know I haven’t.
- Tandoori chicken tikka
marinated in classic tandoori spices, served with tomato and cucumber salad, mint and honey raita with toasted sesame seeds, again, commented on as, Oh my god.
- Tawa scallops-Kaffir lime-cucumber
Plancha seared hand dived scallops, ( maybe not so local?) Kaffir lime and fresh green chilli sauce, tempered cucumber with cumin with toasted and crushed peanuts
In truth, these are the best starters we have experienced, not just in an Indian restaurant either I would say , and all bar the scallops could be taken as mains
- Tawa Duck
Roast breast of duck, crispy onion bhaji, apple sultana and black mustard chutney, Sweet and sour sauce
Again, comments given that justify the flavour of the dish
- Chicken lababdar
Free range chicken breast cooked in chefs own take on lababdar sauce with fresh ginger, green chillies, coriander leaves and fresh cream
- Masala lamb shank
Pot roasted Welsh Lamb shamk braised with onion, tomato, yoghurt and ground sesame seeds, and when they say on the menu it is melt in the mouth, it is melt in the mouth
- Chicken Jalfrezi
Now I am a chicken Jalfrezi enthusiast but believe me, this rises above them all, enough said
Usually, it would stop there, the waiter would come around and ask, would you like dessert and we would say, no thank you
The waiter came around and asked if we would like dessert and we said, no thank you, then Ataur, the communications director came over and said, how about you sample our chefs own sorbet
Wel, i have never been a sorbet lover but we agreed and they brought out three scoops of a rather delicious looking sorbet, raspberry, strawberry and chocolate and some small spoons and my life,
it was like eating fresh fruit, disguised as sorbet, just sumptuously made and fresh as you like while still being refreshing.
Then coffee, which again was delicious compared to some we have tasted.
This was then followed by sampling the cocktails.
I am not a great cocktail lover but we sampled,
- A little bit of symphony
- Campari Negroni
Then the finishing touch with coffee and the bill was the minted leaves
To anyone wanting to treat another, to anyone wanting to impress another, to anyone wanting to sample the dishes of a chef who completely understands the subtlety of spicing and a true true love and passion for his food, whilst surrounded by the finest detailing, the creative thought and styling of a business that has the vision to entice and lure you back, then this is without doubt the place.
When we visited Namaskar lounge first time, my colleague wrote,
“This is a first date, suited and booted, boss seducing, client impressing, girl winning, anniversary hosting, lottery winning, company credit card restaurant”
He was right then but the entire staff of The Mintroom have taken this onto another level, without overstating and by just looking at what makes a great dining experience.
Simple, tasty food in comfortable surroundings and friendly caring people who want you to not just go away happy, but to come back again and again, and you will
We usually score the restaurants on different criteria. but I haven’t even bothered asking the guys because it was obvious on the night and I am feeling obsequious enough already, can’t wait to go back